Santa Monica Crossroads High School demonstrated Saturday exactly why its basketball team was moved out of the Small Schools Division and into the 1-A Division.
Southern Section 1-A champion Crossroads was playing Cerritos Whitney, the Small Schools Division champions. And it was just like old times for Crossroads, as it outran, outshot and outplayed the best the Small Schools Division could offer by a 94-60 score at the Sports Arena.
With the victory, Crossroads (22-7) wins the Southern Regional Division III title and advances to the State championship game next Saturday in Oakland. Whitney finishes 22-6.
"It's pretty obvious that (the Southern Section) moving us up was an appropriate move," Crossroads Coach Eliot Turret said. Crossroads won two of three Small Schools titles before moving up to the 1-A in 1984.
The game, as the score would indicate, was a mismatch. Crossroads was bigger, faster and stronger, and from beginning to end the Roadrunners lived up to their nickname, using a full-court press on defense and running every chance they got on offense.
Whitney opened the game in a zone, so Crossroads gladly took the outside shot--and made it. Keith Davis led the way, scoring a game-high 22 points, one of four Crossroads' players in double figures. For the game, Crossroads shot 65% from the field.
By the second quarter, it didn't matter what defense Whitney played as Crossroads went inside and out for a 52-31 halftime lead.
"They hit from the outside, and they hit from the inside," Whitney Coach Bruce Carlisle said. "(To win) we had to play the best game we could play and they had to be awful.
"It didn't happen."
No, it didn't, but Whitney, despite being so overmatched, threw a scare into Crossroads with a third-quarter rally.
Whitney opened the second half with a press, and it started to pay off midway through the period as the Wildcats scored 10 straight points to close within 12 points at 64-52. Whitney, which had rallied from a 12-point deficit on Wednesday in the semifinals to defeat Laton, 63-61, was thinking comeback.
"I really am not all that pleased with my team," Turret said. "When we got a little overconfident, Whitney came back even though they were over their heads."
After a timeout, Davis made a steal and Crossroads was off and running again. A fast-break basket by Dave Wolfe got the lead back to 14 by the end of third period, and Crossroads' running game exploded in the fourth quarter to put the game away.